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When hiring a florist is a better arrangement

Bridesmaids poses with bouquets by floral designer Nancy

Bridesmaids poses with bouquets by floral designer Nancy Munch of Open House Country Flowers in Stony Brook. Photo Credit: Kate Leigh

When Alison Delaney and Aaron Bokros of Setauket began planning their November 2009 wedding, they considered doing their own flowers. The couple had lived in the city, and access to the famed Chelsea flower district made it seem possible.

"Very early on, that was something that we thought about," Alison said. "There was one venue in Manhattan that lent itself to doing it yourself from top to bottom."

In the end, Alison said, choosing a floral professional to create bouquets and centerpieces was the right thing to do. "As we researched it more, we realized you will become your own subcontractor," Alison said. "It's a question of price, convenience and your own sanity at some point."

Alison chose Nancy Munch of Open House Country Flowers in Stony Brook to create a natural palette that complemented their black-and-white wedding theme. "Everything was very organic-looking, very subtle," Alison said. "There is no way we could have come up with what Nancy did."

That special one-on-one touch has marked Munch's 16 years as a floral decorator. While she understands couples' seeking to cut costs, she says there is more to wedding flowers than clicking on a Web site, getting the delivery and voilà, you're done.

"There are so many things that people don't get," said Munch, who added that she spends up to 15 hours preparing flowers for each wedding. "I don't sleep the night before a wedding. I'm making sure the flowers are perfect."

Videos on sites such as YouTube giving instruction in floral design have blossomed in recent years. But dangers loom. Weather, refrigeration and delivery are just some of the variables that do-it-yourselfers need to consider, Munch said. "The thought process of where am I getting the container; ordering extra flowers in case one breaks or is damaged. The big stress is in the timing."

Munch was able to stick to Alison and Aaron's budget while achieving a natural, yet classic, look. "Nancy, for us, was a perfect fit because she can do subtle things that are creative."

She has had clients who made their own centerpieces, but left the bouquets to her. "I would say if it's a price issue, I'll talk her through it," Munch said. "I would help them because it's so stressful."

Alison and Aaron did let their inner Martha Stewart shine through in one aspect of their big day: They put together the packaging for their wedding favors of miniature apple pies and pumpkin pies ordered from a local bakery. It all came together - black and white tissue paper cut to fit and placed inside gift boxes ordered online - with the help of family. The result was fabulous, Alison said. "People loved it," she said. "And the pies were delicious."

She's not sure she would have done-it-herself more than that, however. "There's only so many hand-stamped things you can do before going crazy," Alison said. "For me, hiring a professional was the way to go for flowers."


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